24 JAN – 22 FEB 2019
Bag Factory Artist’s Studios, in partnership with Blessing Ngobeni, invites you to join us for the opening of Simphiwe Buthelezi’s solo exhibition LALA LA, curated by Chumisa Ndakisa. As the recipient of the 2018 Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize, Buthelezi has spent three months in residence at the Bag Factory producing new work for this ambitious first solo exhibition.
Lala la means ‘come rest here’ in Zulu. It is a thread that has run through many of the titles and works in Buthelezi’s previous work and is a theme she has explored intensively during the past three months. Lala la, come rest here, is something a woman would say to a lover, a mother to a child, a child to a mother, or a child to a father. It implies an attempt to offer comfort, reconciliation, and an acceptance of loss; while also exploring love and the idea of love as sacrifice, as something worth dying for.
In terms of her feminist vision as an artist, LALA LA, come rest here, is also a place Buthelezi has created for herself – a place where she can be free from societal pressures to nurture, fix, and make everything ‘right’. “I am trying to create this atmosphere of rest where it doesn’t always have to be right. You can really rest here. You can talk about anything here. You can just be here. And I am trying to create that atmosphere of rest, not just for myself, but for the people who come see the show.”
Throughout this exciting new body of work, the artist has employed different elements like light, sound, straw, and found items such as ornate gilded picture frames, ‘feminine’ objects like plastic buttons, beads, and hair, as well as oxidised metal in various forms. At the centre of the exhibition, a salvaged chandelier represents enlightenment for the artist. Straw mats are re-purposed, woven and re-woven, stained, or shredded. The mats are especially significant to the artist; not only as something you sit on at home, a domestic item, but also as a representation of family and memory, through the objects, as ‘heirlooms’, and the technique passed down to her by her grandmother, who weaves mats from recycled materials. Symbolically, straw mats are laid down at burials, before the casket is lowered into its final resting place; and they are used as a ritualistic item when consulting or trying to reach a different realm. “I feel like the material speaks so much for itself that it becomes a struggle to impose on it or know what to do to it. Maybe with the cutting and shredding of the straw I have been trying to find healing. Trying to understand something that is so deeply hidden within myself.”